Lichfield, Staffs

John Wesley never preached in Lichfield and, because there was no Methodist society there, as late as 1794 it was chosen as the place for a clandestine meeting of the leading itinerants to discuss proposals to be put to the Conference of that year.

In 1811 a warehouse at Gallows Wharf was registered as places of worship by Joshua Kidger and in 1813 a chapel was built in Lombard Street, opened in 1814 by Dr. Adam Clarke. There is evidence of another Wesleyan chapel opened in 1815 in Wade Street and still in use as late as 1837. At the time of the 1851 Religious Census Lombard Street chapel reported attendances of 22 in the morning and 41 in the evening, but referred to congregations of 130 during the winter months.

Lichfield was in the Burton upon Trent Circuit until 1886, when the Tamworth and Lichfield Circuit was formed. This became two separate circuits in 1947, but was reunited in 1989.

A site for a new chapel was acquired in 1891 and Tamworth Street chapel was opened in April 1892 by the President of the Conference, Dr. T.B. Stephenson. It replaced Lombard Street chapel, but the latter was not sold until 1921, following the purchase of Tamworth House next to the new chapel. New Sunday School premises were built there, opened in 1924 and a period of growth led to extensions of the premises in 1972.

In 1982 major alterations were made to the church itself, with the sanctuary relocated at the Tamworth Street end and a new entrance facing Tamworth House. The pews were replaced by chairs originating in an Isle of Wight prison. Loss of the choir stalls led to the demise of the choir itself. Population growth in this period, particularly with the development of the Boley Park estate, was accompanied by a growing membership, which reached 348 in 1987. Lichfield was chosen by MHA for the launch of its ‘Live at Home Scheme’.

Primitive Methodist preaching in the town began in 1820 at Greenhill. A schoolroom in St. Mary’s parish was registered for worship in 1831 and a chapel in George Lane opened in 1847/8. In 1851 attendances on Census Sunday were 23 in the afternoon and 57 in the evening, with congregations of 60 plus 51 Sunday School children reported as ‘normal’. George Lane chapel closed and was sold in 1934, when the members joined the Wesleyans at Tamworrth Street.

In 1826 the Methodist New Connexion registered a barn in Sandford Street which had formerly been used by the Congregationalists. It was replaced in 1833 by a chapel in Queen Street, which was sold in 1859 when the congregation disbanded

Sources
  • Lichfield Methodist Church 1892-1992 Centenary History